CENTER— Following the article in last week’s Center Post-Dispatch by former police chief James Gowin and a related article regarding former police chiefs, the Town of Center has confirmed its police department is under review by a human resources firm in Grand Junction.
Town Administrator Brian Lujan said Monday during a telephone interview that he is not sure who leaked the information to the public but acknowledged there is an ongoing evaluation of the police department underway.
“This is an outside agency that deals in human resource issues,” Lujan said. “We received a complaint and the town takes all complaints seriously.” He explained that it is important to keep both the complainants and those named in the complaint confidential because these are personnel matters not open to public scrutiny.
Lujan called the complaint “serious enough to look into” and said the human resources firm will “get to the bottom of it. Everything has been completely internal; confidentiality is important.” The review is not about anything criminal in nature, he reported.
Some Center citizens have voiced complaints that the police department is not responding to the community as initially discussed when new police chief Tristan Vanzalinge was first hired. One of the issues involves a citizens’ oversight committee for the police department, which has never been established.
According to an anonymous source, the review involves the possible violation of policies regarding hiring practices and dissatisfaction with the performance of certain police personnel. Lujan noted that the matter has more to do with professional conduct and the work environment.
Former chief Gowin expressed concern in last week’s issue of the Center Post-Dispatch that there has been talk and continues to be talk that Mary and Bill McClure, also Adeline Sanchez, want to put the police department under control of the board.
“While it is possible to do that, it is not how a town should be run,” Gowin emphasized. “A board should provide guidance to the town manager in terms of goals and objectives, and then it is the town manager’s job to make those goals and objectives come to life.”
Lujan said the human resources firm is expected to report to the town during an executive session for personnel matters scheduled for the town’s Feb. 12 meeting. Since no decision of any kind may be made during an executive session, any consequences resulting from the review would need to be announced during an open session of the meeting.
“We will always be open with the community,” Lujan said in concluding his interview, adding that hopefully there will be a resolution of the matter at the Feb. 12 meeting.